There are many different reasons for adding an online map to your website. It offers visitors a point of reference based on location, weather or even geographic locations served. Some businesses benefit more from maps than others, and different types serve various purposes.
There are around 30 million small businesses in the United States, with small-business owners earning about $50,347 per year. If your company has a brick-and-mortar location, office space or distribution area, then a map shows users exactly where your products are available or where to find you.
There are five basic types of online maps your site visitors are most interested in. Keep in mind the overall user experience (UX) and how each type might benefit your specific target audience. Here are five main purposes for maps on your site and how they help your customers.
1. Find Directions
Companies with physical locations benefit from direction-type maps. For example, if you own a fine dining restaurant, you might include one so someone who made reservations online can integrate it with their smartphone. Google Maps and some other types allow you to create a clickable feature that people activate via a mobile device. They can then use GPS locating and get step-by-step details on how to arrive at your storefront.
Jack Fry's offers a map that clearly shows what other places it's near, as well as crossroads. If the user is familiar with the area, they can go right to the restaurant. It also offers step-by-step text directions. You can click on the map and use it with your smartphone maps app.
2. Check Delivery Area
If you deliver to or service a specific area, add maps that show your availability. With cloud computing, you can integrate it with your database and confirm availability in different locations in real time. You could even include a map that shows a service person's proximity to someone's home if they are sent out on a call. This type of instant update ties into artificial intelligence (AI) and is something users are coming to expect more of.
An example of this type of technology is how some pizza parlors utilize the cloud to show where someone's order is in the process. The user sees a tracker that shows when the pizza is ordered, when it goes in the oven, when it leaves for delivery and even how far away the driver is from them.
3. Locate a Dealer
If you run an organization with more than one location, your site visitors may not be sure which place they'd like to visit. You can offer a map that shows them where your offices are. Make the map as simple or complex as you'd like. For example, you can show different specialties at your locations with icons or text.
Location maps typically include markers, and when the user clicks on one, a pop-up appears with additional details. You might display a specific address, phone number or even hours of operation. Another idea is to make the markers hover-activated so the pop-up appears as the user mouses over the area. Avoid mouseovers if you have several locations close together, as they can be distracting to the user.
Nitterhouse Masonry Products uses a location map and allows leads to find a dealer based on the user's address or by the product they'd like installed. It features markers, showing where different dealers are based. This makes things much easier for customers.
4. Show Impact Over Time
You can also use a map to show the impact of various actions on an area. For example, if you're an eco-friendly company, perhaps you want to include a map showing the difference one small business has on a local ecosystem over the years. You can use different shades and superimpose images to highlight the difference between doing nothing and doing something — even small changes.
If you sell a popular product, you can use colors to highlight its location at any given time. You could also let users search for a specific item with an interactive map and pull up where it is currently in stock near them.
5. Use a Negative Background
If you'd like a modern-looking map, use only images or geometric designs to highlight locations with either a background image or nothing at all. If your reach is wide, the outline of your city, state, country or even the world will take shape with the map's markers. You can add a light outline if needed.
Unicef uses a plain background to highlight areas of the world that will have an urban population over 100,000 by 2050. Note how the circles outline the different continents of the world. There is no need for drawing in lines or adding a bunch of descriptions, as that detracts from the overall impact of the design.
Reasons for Adding Maps
There are many reasons business owners might add a map to their website. The five types above are just a few ways you can add value for your site visitors. Think about the information you most need to convey and how to represent it through a map. With a little practice, you'll find an illustration that directs your customers where you'd like them to go.